More Exceptional Plants by Stephen Ryan (Hyland House, 2002), sourced from the Garden and Artfest bookstall, $58. There’s humour, botanical history and lashings of opinions but these don’t overshadow the horticultural knowledge. Those who were lucky enough to hear the author speak (why weren’t there more of you?) at the 2012 Garden and Artfest in Tauranga will know what to expect.
His earlier book, Exceptional Plants, dealt with trees and shrubs. This volume takes in everything else, including bulbs, climbers and perennials. Don’t worry that the author is Australian as the majority of the plants are available in New Zealand. Heck, some are even native to Aotearoa.
Thoughtful Gardening by Robin Lane Fox (Particular Books, 2010), sourced from Tauranga Library. A collection of essays about everything from the gardens of ancient Rome to keeping badgers under control. No matter that this is gardening as applied to (mostly) England, the quality of the writing is exquisite.
Futurescapes by Tim Richardson (Thames & Hudson, 2011), sourced from my personal collection. I heard Tim speak at the 2011 Landscape Design Conference in Melbourne and immediately went and bought this book (and got him to sign it!). Entertaining, erudite and challenging (in a good way) for anyone interested in garden design. Here’s a sample of his writing.
New Zealand in Flower by Alison Evans (Bookmakers, 1987), sourced from a book fair for about 50c. If you’re keen on native plants or want to know more about them, keep your eyes peeled for this one. Beautifully illustrated with colour photos and with an informative text.
Nature Guide to the New Zealand Forest by John Dawson and Rob Lucas (Godwit, reprinted 2011), sourced from the Whakapapa Visitor Centre, Mt Ruapehu, $49.90. Not a gardening book as such but wonderfully informative about a great many of our native plants – from fungi and ferns to shrubs and trees. Well illustrated and well written.
Antonio Carluccio’s Vegetables (Headline, 2002), sourced from the now-defunct Browser’s in Tauranga, $18. Once you’ve grown them, how to prepare them. Delicious Italian vegetable dishes from the master.
Tender Volume II by Nigel Slater (Fourth Estate, 2010), sourced from Books A Plenty, $60. Not the cheapest recipe book I’ve ever bought but one of my most used. A celebration of fruit in savoury and sweet dishes. (Tender Volume I is vegetables and there is now a box set of both.)
Meadowland: The private life of an English Field by John Lewis-Stempel (Penguin Random House, 2014), sourced from Bruce McKenzie Booksellers in Palmerston North. Fascinating, one of the best books I’ve read in a long while. Written from the heart and with love.
Books A Plenty, Gray St, Tauranga. I’ve been working at arts festivals with Chris and Warren for a few years now, and before that they were my bookshop of choice anyway. Go there, buy books you didn’t know you needed and feel welcome every time you step through the door.
The Jury Garden by Abbie Jury (Tikorangi Garden, Taranaki). Fearless and feisty opinions combined with a truckload of gardening knowledge.
Kaimai Bush by Shirley Kerr (Athenree). Shirley is a keen amateur mycologist and a top-class photographer. Her website records her finds, primarily fungi but also mosses, ferns, orchids and lichens.
Garden Drum edited by Catherine Stewart and featuring a wide cast of writers. Opinions and news from the world of gardening.
4, directed by Tim Slade (2007, 88 minutes). Four violinists each play one of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in four different places – spring in Japan, summer in tropical Australia, autumn in New York and winter in Lapland. Beautiful.
The Private Life of Plants with David Attenborough (1995, 4 hours on 2 discs). Fascinating commentary, brilliant footage. The garden will never seem the same again.
Odds & Sods
Norwegian Formula Hand Cream by Neutrogena. Forget all those “gardener” hand creams, this is the real deal. “Just a dab needed,” says the tube and, for once, the advertising is right. From a supermarket near you.
All words and photos copyright Sandra Simpson